Still winless after two games on the road and limping home with an offense that has managed only one touchdown and 13 total points, the Chiefs are in a situation not unlike that of a year ago as they prepare for their home opener with the Minnesota Vikings.
"We were sitting in the same (0-2) rut. Hadn't scored a lot of points — only three more than we have this year," coach Herm Edwards said, invoking memories of encouraging historical precedents. "Then all of a sudden, we play at home and get it going, scored 41 (in the home opener against San Francisco)."
Yeah, well, the Vikings defense isn't as yielding as that of the 2006 49ers. And while no one is expecting a 40-something outburst from these Chiefs — check that, no one is even dreaming of a 40-something outburst from these Chiefs — Edwards' point that an offense can suddenly catch fire is well made.
In Kansas City's case, getting merely warm would be an improvement.
Getting just one touchdown on five trips into the Gold Zone last week in Chicago would be enough to shake the confidence of any team. Especially one that hasn't tasted victory since the regular-season finale last New Year's Eve.
"If you don't score, you don't gain a lot of confidence," Edwards said in stating the obvious. "All it takes is a touchdown and then you gain confidence. And once you've got that, it keeps growing."
"That's the way the defense is playing right now," he added. "They're playing with the belief that they can take the ball away. We talked about it all last week in practice. Lo and behold, they took the ball away three times."
But it will take more than talking to revive Kansas City's 28th-ranked offense. That's a ranking more traditionally held by the Chiefs defense, which instead is holding a No. 8 position after yielding only 277 yards a game.
The Chiefs offensively have to get back to their true identity, which means running the ball effectively behind Larry Johnson — who has only 26 carries in two games for 98 yards — and hitting some medium-range play-action passes. Running against the Vikings solid rushing defense will be a challenge, but the Chiefs simply have to be up to the task.
"When you lose, everything gets magnified," Edwards said. "People want you to throw the baby out with the bath water. But we're not going to do that.
"This team is 0-2 right now. There are 10 teams 0-2. Last year, there were 11. Five of them were playoff teams, and we happened to be one of those five. So there's no need to panic. We're going to keep doing what we have to do, and we'll get better. We'll get the offense going and, hopefully, a month from now we won't be discussing this."
Allen, who's had 27.5 sacks in his three-year career, returned to practice looking fit after a two-week period in which he could attend team meetings, but not practice.
Though describing his personal workouts during his "vacation" as intense, Allen also acknowledged playing golf almost daily during his break. Hardly a prisoner of fashion while on the links, he prefers to play his round in flip-flops.
"They feel better when you find the sand, and I found a lot of sand," he quipped.
All kidding aside, Allen seemed hungry to return to action even as he reported to Monday's meetings in overalls and a John Deere T-shirt.
"I was able to come to meetings, so mentally I stayed in a football mindset," he said. "I studied Minnesota a lot, so I feel like I got a jump.
"But it was frustrating when you realize this was all self-inflicted. I'm the reason I wasn't out there with my teammates. But that's all behind me now, and we can move on. It starts Sunday, back home in Arrowhead with no excuse not to win."
Gonzalez initially chided Bowe for bringing another defender to him, then sang the rookie's play-making praises in postgame comments.
But Edwards wasn't buying it.
"Tony could say what he wants about being happy, but I looked at him. He wasn't happy," Edwards said.
BY THE NUMBERS: 13-5 — The Chiefs' record in home openers in 18 previous years under Carl Peterson.
20-4 — Chiefs home record against NFC opponents since the league expansion to 30 teams in 1995.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "They do some things that make you scratch your head and say, ‘Why did they do that?' Then they make some catches that make you go, ‘Wow, how did they do that?' " — Herm Edwards, on working with young receivers such as rookie Dwayne Bowe.